Great Sand Dunes National Park

Oh hey I guess I forgot I had a blog over the summer. I tend to do that every summer. Life is always busy, but having all three kiddos home all day adds to the madness! But the best kind of madness. Mostly. More on summer later.

We started our summer with a trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Its been on my bucket list for years, but theres such a short window of time to go when the creek is flowing (May-mid june) that we always miss it. Theres only a few cabins right there outside the park and they fill up Fast. But when I called in May I asked if they had ANY openings, and we lucked out with an early June opening during the week so we jumped on it. And SO glad we did!

There aren't words to describe the beauty of the sand dunes. Its so unexpected, to be driving through the mountains, and then all of a sudden you are in this valley surrounded by mountains on all sides except for these massive sand dunes in front of you. Just unreal! If the sand dunes aren't on your bucket list they should be! And definitely make sure you go when Medano creek is flowing!

Some tips: 

Stay at the  Oasis  cabins. They are Right outside the park, you can't get closer unless you are tent camping inside the park. They are small and 'rustic' but it was perfect for us with enough room for all 5 of us. 

Bring the food you are going to want to eat. Theres only a tiny store that carried some basic items and a small cafe right there, otherwise you need to drive like 30 minutes or so to the nearest town. We brought a huge cooler and cooked all of our meals except lunch on the first day we arrived, we had that at the cafe. 

SUN SCREEN. I mean thats a given with the altitude and elevation and SUN, but put on more than you think you need and more often than you think you need. Between the sand and the water, you will get fried if you don't wear like a million SPF. No but seriously, we had on 100 SPF and still needed to reapply every 60-90 minutes and we still got some sun. Tindra who never burns was peeling like crazy the next couple of days. 

Other information; you can rent sleds with wax at the little shop at the Oasis cabins, definitely do that. And bring sand toys. Plan on lots of time at the creek. Our kids could have spent all day every day there and done nothing else and would have been happy. Its more like a beach with waves than a creek and its So fun! Also, bring tubes to float in! And water shoes!

 

 

Officially a 'Tindragartner'

Tindras last day of PreK was yesterday and today was their ceremony! It was so stinking cute! It was 'Oh the Places You'll Go' themed, and the teachers gave them all their own copy of the book, with special messages inside from their teachers. So special! The kiddos sang a few songs and got their diplomas. Can't believe we will have two in Elementary school in the fall! 

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First and last day of PreK! She won the class award for 'Most Stylish'  

First and last day of PreK! She won the class award for 'Most Stylish'  

Mothers day

We finally had amazing weather on Mother's Day! The last few years it's been terrible, even snowing, but not this year!  

We started off the day by riding our bikes to church (about a 5.5 mile round  trip with lots of hills!) and then grabbing brunch at Panera after. We were going to go fishing at the little pond behind our house after naps and I was going to read in the sun (pure bliss!) but Soren ended up taking almost a 4 hour nap (!!!!!) so that messed up our plans a little bit! We ended up just hanging out and then grabbing dinner on a patio. Pretty relaxing Mother's Day! Hope everyone else had an amazing day!  

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Wilmington, NC

*This was originally posted on my other blog (tales of a young mamma) but I want all my travel posts on what blog so I'll be adding different travel posts here*

This was one of those once in a life time trips (that I hope to repeat!) and I'm so so thankful everything worked out the way it did and we were able to make it all happen.

 

Drew drove out with me to Iowa to spend a few days working there before he went to Arizona and we went to NC which was really helpful having him there for that part of the drive. 

My mom and I started the drive at 3 AM after we had gotten a few hours sleep. Our first stop was Asheville and it's about a 13 hr drive from my moms to there and we wanted to get some of the driving done when the kids were asleep. Perfect choice, so by the time we made our first stop for gas/breakfast/feed Soren/ switch drivers the kids had slept the whole way and we were already 4 hours into the drive.I can't say enough about how my kids are amazing travelers. Seriously the best. 

We made it to Asheville in time for dinner and running around a bit before bed. And the next day the kids had the times of their lives running around in the mountains at my aunts and uncle's house. Picking berries, playing in their pond for hours, roasting marshmallows.. as much as I like to think they are city kids, they really thrive out in nature. 

After our time in Asheville we made the 6 hour drive to Wilmington to spent the week on the beach with my sister, brother in law their son, and my brother, sister in law and their son. We had two condo's in a 4 plex literally Right on the beach. We couldn't possibly have been any closer. 

 

We had the best week. We would get up..too early, and my mom would usually take the kids to the beach pretty early while I would stay back with Soren for his first nap before we joined them. Then after lunch and nap often we would go back down to the beach. 

 

The kids absolutely fell in love with the beach. Jasper would have spent every second in the ocean if we would have let him, while Tindra was content to hang back and play in the sand while going in for dips with me or another adult. 

 

 

They had so much cousin time and loved every minute of it.  I thought by the end of the week we would all be sick of the beach, but nope..we could have easily stayed longer and still had a blast. Best part about the beach? Best naps and sleep time. They would be so exhausted they would fall asleep the second their heads in their pillows. Which is a major bonus when on vacation. And then the adults would meet on the deck right outside with baby monitors for game playing and some drinks. 

One day my mom and I took a break from the beach and took the kids to Jungle Rapids, a water park right in Wilmington. We definitely could have stayed there all day! And probably would have if Tindra and Soren weren't so badly needing naps! Tindra really became a fish at this pool and was finally brave enough to put her face under the water(!!!!) and Jasper felt like such a big kid being allowed to go on all the tube rides by himself, with me waiting at the bottom, though I did go on a few with him as well! We also took turns taking them go carting there, which Jasper basically thought was the coolest thing ever, and I definitely won some cool points when I pulled into first place at the very end. 

We lucked out an had amazing weather the entire time we were there, except one afternoon called for rain so we decided it was the perfect time to go to Fort Fisher Aquarium. If you are in the area this is another must do. My kids Love aquariums, and this is definitely the coolest one they have been to. They got to touch a shark (!!) and a star fish and some sort of really big crab. They also have a lorikeet habitat where you go in and feed them, probably the hi light for Jasper especially. One jumped on his head while he was feeding it and he hasn't stopped talking about it since!!

 

After our time in Wilmington we drove to Charlotte to visit family there, I'll save those pictures for the next NC recap!

Thanks to Jungle Rapids and Fort Fisher Aquarium for having us come visit!

Spring is in the air

Last week the pretty white trees (anyone know what these are called?) had bloomed so naturally I dragged T out to 'model' for me. I had to bribe her with jelly beans, and basically she sang the entire time (hence the eyes closed) but I still managed to get some shots! Poor photographers daughter. 

Its finally starting to warm up and Stay warm, which makes me oh so happy. I love winter, I really do. I love all four seasons, maybe even equally. But every time the season changes I get so excited. I guess its part of me that loves change. Craves it. I only stay happy with one season for so long before I'm ready for the next. 

I have noticed the older I get that I'm like that with life also. Only content for so long. Trust me its something I'm working on! Its just so long that we have had something Major happening ever year to look forward to, plan for. Just going back a few years, in 2010 we got married. In 2011 we went on our big Swedish honeymoon (and also got pregnant) in 2012 we had a baby. In 2013 we bought/sold a house and moved. In 2014 we went on our big Sweden/Iceland/Norway adventure (and got pregnant.) In 2015 we had another baby. In 2016 we bought a house and moved to the suburbs And shortly after went on an amazing vacation (florida and caribbean cruise) And now its 2017. And we don't have anything major on the horizon . And thats unusual for us. But we have a great life. We have three healthy, happy, amazing children. Drew has a great job. We love our home. Things are good. And I need to remind myself (often) to be content with that. 

But now Spring is here. Flowers are blooming. Bike rides are happening, patio season is here,  Spring soccer has started . And we are all good, really good. 

Vikings

A couple months ago I had the opportunity to send my DNA into GPS Origins to have them test it. I've always wanted to do this, so naturally I jumped at the opportunity. 

 

They sent me a kit and all I had to do what take some cheek swabs with the large Q-tips they sent and mail it back and wait patiently for a few weeks!

 

Here's a little science lesson for those of us who don't get how this whole gene mapping works. 

 

 

So what I learned was my family is from Sweden (which I obviously already knew given my dad was born and raised there, but what I didn't know was that my ancestors actually traveled to Iceland and settled Iceland. My dad always joked we were Vikings, but turned out my ancestors actually were Vikings. Crazy huh? My ancestors also settled the Orkney Islands ( islands off the coast of Scotland settled by Scandinavian vikings) about 6000 years ago! So amazing to have that knowledge! 

 

 

When we moved to the US from Sweden, my first big school project was to research and dress up as Leif Ericsson (funny side note, there were only two girls on the list to chose from, and I got to choose first because I had literally Just moved here, and I thought I was picking one of the girl names, because from where I sat, and my terrible eyes I thought it said Leah...so yeah I thought I was picking one of the girl names to dress up as, and the whole class assumed I picked the viking because I had just moved from Sweden.) I have a picture somewhere of me dressed in fur, with aluminum horns coming out of a helmet as a viking. Turns out that picture isn't that far of a stretch! 

 

I've always known I'm Swedish on my dads side and Italian and Swedish from my moms side. But I also found out that my ancestors were from Sardinia, Greece, Albania, and The Balkans! I want to go got all of these places so badly, and walk the same places my ancestors did thousands of years ago. Wouldn't that be amazing? 

 

Oh just hanging out in the Blue Lagoon that my ancestors discovered 

Oh just hanging out in the Blue Lagoon that my ancestors discovered 

Being Swedish Vikings in Stockholm during Midsummer 2014

Being Swedish Vikings in Stockholm during Midsummer 2014

 

I want to figure out some way to get all this information up on a little map for the kids so they can see where part of their DNA comes from, now we just need to do Drew's so they can have both sides! 

Grand Lake getaway!

Drew has been wanting to get his Grandpa out here (from Nebraska) to go ice fishing forever, and finally they made it happen! My sister in law has family friends that have an amazing house up there that they so generously let us borrow for the long weekend, and we all had such an amazing time!

 

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The guys all went ice fishing two of the days, while my sister and law and I hung out at the house with the kids, played games during nap time, and played in the snow! One of the days they went ice fishing we brought them lunch and hung out for a while, J loved it so much he wanted to stay the rest of the day and went back again the next day. Tindra liked it but insisted on crawling everywhere because the ice was pretty slippery and Soren..well Soren needed to be carried or pulled on the sled the entire time. It was so much fun being out on the ice, reminded me so much of my childhood in Northern Sweden. 

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I've wanted to go snow shoeing forever, and we finally did! After going snow shoeing with a toddler strapped to my back I think I can officially call myself a Coloradan! 

Our last day it snowed in the afternoon, which made the super cozy weekend even cozier! Heres a little clip of the sledding, excuse the coughing and hoarse voice- I came up with a bad cold the day we went up there and it lasted weeks! 

Thanks for everyone who helped put this weekend together, we definitely need to do it again sometime! 

Mini Getaway to Vail

A couple of weeks ago my mom came to town to watch the kiddos and Drew and I went away for the first time since our honeymoon in 2011! I was dreading leaving the kids, but they had a great time with Grammy and the getaway was even more needed that I thought possible. 

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We had an amazing time with amazing food, shopping, relaxation and some adventure!  

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We had been planning on a day of skiing, but once we got up there we decided to try something new- a snow mobiling tour! At the recommendation of a friend we went with Nova guides and they did Not disappoint! Our guide was the best! He picked us up at the condo we were staying and drove us 40 min or so to the lodge.  

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We spent the next 4ish hours riding up and down the mountain, it was seriously amazing. It was snowing off and on the whole time and Really freaking cold (I believe single digits which feels a a lot colder while riding in 30-40 MPH with no cover! The snow suits helped for sure, but towards the end of the trip I couldn't feel my fingers and toes anymore and I was convinced my face had frost bite (spoiler alert, it didn't!)  Because we had a small group, and our tour guide thought we could handle it, he took us to the very very top, i think it was a little above 12,500 feet? We stopped for just a minute up there as it was REALLY FREAKING COLD and low visibility with the wind and it was snowing at that point. I took my glove of for 15 seconds to take a video- mistake! I couldn't even put my phone away before I had to get my gloves on and seriously couldn't feel my hand in that short amount of time. Things could get dangerous up there really quickly! 

When we got back to the lodge lunch was waiting for us! I can't even tell you how amazing that burger, fries and cherry coke tasted after the morning of snow mobiling. Partly from the cold but also partly from the adrenaline I think, but my body was shaking for a good 30 minutes after as we ate lunch waiting for our guide to take us back down.

Basically as soon as we got back to the condo we were staying in it was time to go across the street to our massages we had booked the day before. The spa has an outdoor heated pool/hot tub so we went and sat in there first, followed by the steam room and jacuzzi before it was time for massages. If you were wondering what the best way to spend an afternoon after 4 hours outside in the freezing weather- THIS is it. Couples massages, hot tea, followed by pedicures for both of us. Seriously bliss. Pure bliss.

After all that we had the most amazing dinner at terra bistro. Two whole hours of enjoying dinner just us. Now THAT is un heard of. Even on a night out  just us we don't sit for dinner that long, we try to hurry up and eat and get to a movie or something, so I literally can't think of a single time in the last almost 10 years of being parents that we have sat and enjoyed such a long dinner. And dessert! 

The rest of our stay up in Vail was spent walking around, shopping, eating at several delicious restaurants, and even some outlet shopping on the way home. It really was the Perfect 3 day getaway, but I was Super anxious to get home to my babies. Even turning down going into the Coach outlet just so we could get on the road and home earlier to see them. And they had the most amazing time with grammy while we were gone! She's apparently a lot more fun than we are..no surprise there! I was thinking Soren would wean himself while I was away, but don't you worry he was up 6 times the night I got back reclaiming his territory. Every time he would wake up he would claim 'mamma all done bye bye' Sure is nice to be loved and missed! But he was 100 percent fine when we were gone. 

Vacationing with my kids is my absolute favorite thing in the world to do, but a getaway with just Drew might be a close second. 

 

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Recipe: Super Easy White Bread

Theres something about this time of year that just has me craving fresh warm home made bread. This is the one my mom always made growing up, sometimes she would put bacon bits in it, or sun flower seeds. Its so easy and really really good! 

Ingredients:

3 1/2-4 C flour (I start w 3 1/2 cups and add a little more if its still sticky) 

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 1/2 C water

1 table spoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

 

Directions:

Mix water, (a little bit above room temperature) sugar and yeast. Mix it and let it sit for 10 minutes to make sure it 'rises' a bit. You can tell when it does, it looks a lot thicker and 'bigger'.

Next mix in flour and salt with the water/yeast/sugar mixture. Kneed until it's smooth. 

Next place the dough ball into a greased big bowl, cover with a towel and let it rise for an hour. 

After the hour is up, punch it down a bit for a minute, form it into an oval shape and cut three little diagonal lines across it (not sure if this is necessary, I just see everyone else do this) and put it on a lightly greased baking sheet and cover with towel again. Let it rise another hour. 

 

Bake it at 350 for 35-40 minutes and EAT it while it's warm! With Butter! And maybe a slice of cheese! And add a cup of tea. That makes it the best. Just trust me. Last night we had this with spicy Italian soup. We are supposed to get a snow storm tonight/tomorrow so I think I'm going to make another loaf so we can have the leftover soup! 

 

*I have also made it into two bread tins by splitting the dough in two and making oval shaped balls and placing it in the middle, it spread and covered most of the pan. Make sure pan is greased so it comes out nice and easy. 

 

 

A look back at 2016

We had such a crazy, busy, but really good year!

We bought a house, moved to the suburbs, started new schools, went on the most amazing family vacation (visited THREE new countries in the process) went from having a baby to an almost TWO year old, and so so much more. 

Last year I put together a little slide show and loved looking back on it so much I needed to do it again. So heres our 2016 in a few pictures! 

 

A look at past Halloweens

Halloween was one of those holidays I never really celebrated. It just wasn't a thing in Sweden (though I'm hearing its becoming a thing now? Any Swedes care to confirm?) and by the time we moved to the US I thought I was too hold for that. So as I got older I wasn't into celebrating Halloween either, just didn't get what the big deal was. 

Till I had kids. Now I GET IT. I get what the big deal is! Dressing up, picking out costumes, carving pumpkins, pumpkin patches, the whole shabang (thats not a real word apparently.) But I GET IT. 

Starting these traditions when your kids are young, so much freaking fun!! No one told me just how fun it is to be an adult and get to do these things. 

So anyway Facebook time hop showed me that 7 years ago today (SEVEN!) we took Jasper trick or treating at Boo at the Zoo for the first time, and I don't think we have missed a year since! (We go this weekend)

His first Halloween Jasper was only 2 months old and all we did was dress him in a little pumpkin onesie and wait for trick or treaters (we got Zero) but his second halloween he was the most adorable bumblebee I ever did see. 

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His third Halloween, and the first time he picked his own costume, he was a spider! 

The Halloween when he was three he was Very specific about who he wanted to be... Pippi Longtockings great grandfather... (from a song, Sjorova fabbe) and I kind of, sort of dropped the ball on a costume for this year as we got married in Iowa on October 23rd and spent the whole week before that and a few days after that here, so we got back Right before Halloween...so this is the only year I 'made' a costume. He was happy enough with it and thats all that counts! 

Next came the Harry Potter obsession...maybe my favorite costume ever 

Next Jasper was batman and Tindra was a zebra by day kitty by night! 

The following year Jasper decided to be a pirate, so I just HAD to get TIndra a parrot costume! They were pretty darn cute together. She was mad about having to take a picture here because she just wanted to chase the peacocks at the zoo...i guess she wanted to join their flock, birds of a feather and all that..

Next up it was Pippi Longstocking and Spiderman, probably my favorite costume of Tindras to date, she just made the cutest pippi ever. 

...and I was a pregnant cat apparently. 

Which brings us to last year. It was the first year Tindra picked out her own costume...and it took us probably an hour at Least at the halloween store, she picked up a dozen different costumes. Then when Jasper decided to be a vampire, she needed to be one too. And it was ridiculously adorable. She was SO into it. Wouldn't smile at all because apparently vampires don't smile.. Soren was a Swedish Viking, Soren the Great, and came together the night before as i randomly saw the viking hat at Whole Foods, and I didn't want him being a vampire because I didn't want him having any make up on his face. Drew and I decided to be vampires like 20 minutes before we were going trick or treating, we usually don't dress up or anything. 

Stay tuned to see what our trio will be this year for Halloween! Its probably the only year they will all be 'matching' so I will probably go into picture overload. 

Three Things

I finally got both little ones down (biggest is in school) and I'm itching to blog...but I have a ridiculous amount of housework and editing to do..so 3 quick things!

Yesterday we celebrated 6 years of marriage (just under 12 years together.) Normally after the kids are in bed we celebrate, usually low key, maybe some wine and fancy cheeses, maybe a small gift. But this year we spent it many miles apart. And it was lonelier than I would have thought it was. Even with a house full of kids (Linnea and Walter came over and that helped a TON) as soon as it was quiet and the kids were in bed I definitely through myself a pity part and ate Far too many swedish bullar (cinnamon buns) that we had baked earlier. 

* Drew is in Nicaragua volunteering at an orphanage for 10 days) and I just know its an amazing, unforgettable experience, and I can't wait to hear All about it! 

Second thing. So after the kids were in bed out of boredom and just wanting a SLIGHT change I decided to color my hair...I've done this maybe 3 times in the last decade, and its always turned out fine and barely a difference since I always get a box that says dark brown and...well I already have dark brown hair. But i feel like it makes it look shinier and more even since I sometimes have natural highlights from the sun. Wellllll Drew face time me just as I was finishing up, so in my excited to talk to him I forgot to set a timer to rinse my hair out. And I may have accidentally left the color in for 45 minutes instead of 25 like I was supposed to.... I guess I'll be going as Wednesday Adams for Halloween. 

And third. Even though I already mentioned them...you haven't Truly lived till you have had a swedish Kanel bulle. 

Happy Monday! 

Date Nights at home with Blue Apron

It's no secret that having three young kids and living 700 miles away from family can be hard sometimes. Especially when it comes to getting out with out the kiddos. It just doesn't happen as often as we would like. We found a high schooler across the street in our new neighborhood who we have used (!!!) but it still doesn't happen enough!

We didn't leave Jasper with a babysitter for the first time till he was almost 5 (kind of insane when I type that out..) so over the years we have gotten pretty good at having at home date nights. We pick a night and sometimes just watch a movie together, maybe with some yummy take out, put our phones away, and make us a priority. But we have been trying to come up with more fun ways we can have date nights at home! I'll be sharing some of those with you over the next few months.

One thing we have always enjoyed doing  but don't get the time very often is cooking together. Usually its me, or sometimes on the weekends he will grill for us, but theres not a lot of times we cook just the two of us together, but we enjoy it a lot so we are going to start making that more of a priority for a date night!

Blue Apron sent us two amazing meals to test out, and it was the perfect way to jump into a cooking together date. Usually cooking involves the menu planning, grocery shopping etc. the not so fun part of cooking. Well not with Blue Apron! They send you everything you need for the meal, including the recipe, and all you have to do is throw it together!

If you aren't familiar with Blue Apron, heres the run down.

Blue Apron is a meal delivery service that delivers farm-fresh ingredients delivered straight to you. (It came in a box filled with ice packs so it stays cold even if it sits out on the porch all day waiting for you to come home) 

There are two meal plans: the 2-person plan and the family plan (feeds a family of four hungry adults for $8.74 per person or $69.92 for an 8-serving delivery which consists of two hearty meals).

The meals are always free shipping and there are zero commitments! So you can sign up, try a week, skip a few weeks, whatever you like!
 

When we told the kids last weekend we were heading home to make dinner, Tindra called from the back seat 'Oh so we gotta stop at King Soopers first?' because thats her norm. Every time we go to make dinner we need to run to the store first, so she was super confused when we said nope we have everything we need at home!

When we got home we sent the kids into the play room to play together and Drew and I got to work on dinner alone! We threw on some music (the Oh Hellos to get us ready for their concert next week) and grabbed a drink (have you tried the alcohol cream sodas?? They are Amazingly refreshing) and got to work. 

I always make Drew handle the raw meat if we cook together, I'd rather not touch raw meat if I don't Have to, but the beef for the Housin beef and vegetable stir fry we made came pre chopped and everything! Even I can handle that kind of meat prep. 

One of the funnest things for me with Blue Apron is that in both meals we tried, it called for ingredients I never have on hand. Like Bok Choy? Egg plant? I'm pretty sure those vegetables have never made an appearance in my kitchen. But it turns out, we all loved trying all these 'new to us' vegetables. It made me step out of my comfort zone and step up the dinner game. 

After church on Sunday we made Fransese-Style Chicken with Arugula and Green Bean-Potato Salad. We started during Tindras and Sorens nap and Jasper reading time, so it was perfect to even be able to fit in a little 'day date' while the kids were resting. And then they got to wake up to a delicious late lunch/early dinner. 

Drews favorite meal was definitely the Hoisin Beef and Vegetable Stir-fry, but I was obsessed with the Chicken and green bean-potato salad. And the kids loved all of it also! 

We went with the 4 person family plan, but it fed our family of five AND we had enough leftovers between the two of them to easily fill all of us when we had leftovers after soccer Monday night. They both made HUGE meals. 

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And now for some Super exciting news. If you want a chance to try out Blue Apron, use THIS code and you get two free meals! No commitment! . But I think after you try it, like us, you will be hooked so fair warning there! 

 

 

Cozumel, Mexico

Our last port day during our cruise was Cozumel, Mexico. Its the only day we ventured away from the ship, and not gonna lie I was a liiiiittle nervous about leaving the ship area. But my brother told we just HAD to go to  Chankkanaab National Park    and after seeing pictures I agreed. But when our taxi started driving down a semi remote road and away from the ship I definitely had an 'oh shit, what are we doing' moment. 

My worries were completely unwarranted though. We had nothing to worry about, we were completely safe and when we got to the beach of the Dolfin Discovery we could actually see our ship! My biggest worry was that we weren't going to make it back to the ship in time, and we probably cut it a too closer for comfort this day, but it all ended up being completely fine, and we had probably the best day ever!

When we got there we immediately signed up to swim with the dolphins. We thought Soren was too young and Drew and I were going to take turns each with a big kid in the water while the other stayed with Soren on land, but we were pleasantly surprised that not only was he allowed to go with us in he was also free! Score. *If you go with young babies though, they did say they have to be one to get in with the dolphins so younger than that and you will have to have a different plan*

Our time with the dolphins wasn't till 11:30 so we had an hour first to go swimming. Theres a big beach at     but theres a little alcove on the side which was Perfect for the kiddos. No waves, and clear water. We saw so many fish! 

When it was time to go swim with the dolphins Soren had Just fallen asleep in the stroller, so when we had to wake him up to put a life vest on him he was Not a happy camper. The people we were in line with to get in were shooting us some daggers about our crying one year old. But luckily for everyone as soon as he spotted the dolphins he was probably as happy as I have ever see him. I wish SO badly I had this whole experience on video, but no go pros/cameras were allowed in the water. 

Im so glad Soren knows puss (kiss in swedish) because when it was his turn to give the dolphin a kiss all i had to say was give her a puss and he leaned over and wrapped his arms around her and gave kisses. We were in the water for maybe 30-40 minutes and he was squealing with laughter the entire time. Okay we all were!

Jasper and Tindra absolutely loved the experience also. Tindra seemed a little bit timid at first when we walked down the slippery steps into the pool area (which was really the ocean but they built dividers in between the different 'pools') but as soon as the dolphin kept swimming by she was super excited also. 

I've wanted to pet a dolphin for as long as I can remember, theres just something so magical about them isn't there? So it was amazing to be able to check that one off my bucket list. But having done it once makes me even more excited to do it again some day!

After we were with the dolphins we got to walk down and get in the water with the manatees also. This part Tindra did Not like, she had decided as soon as she even saw a picture of one earlier in the day that they were stinky (they weren't) and she wasn't going to touch them. And she stuck with that. She was fine standing there in the water on the ledge and clinging to me as they s l o w l y swam by, but she refused to touch them. Once that girl has made up her mind about something, thats it. Theres no changing her mind. 

After all that it was lunch time (which was to be honest just O K) and then more swimming in the alcove and the pool there. And we walked around the whole park and saw the crocodiles (not my favorite animal) and HUGe lizards just running around. To clarify, the crocodiles were in their big cages like at a zoo- they were NOT running around. 

We took one of the last taxis out of there to get back to the ship, and spent a little time in the shops right by the cruise port. Drew had decided he had to get a pair of cowboy boots, and bargained them down (a little bit) to get pairs for both of us, even though I kept saying they were Not going to fit in our luggage.

Heres the video we made of our trip if you want to just see the cancun portion, it starts right after 5 minutes 

Long time no see!

Long time no see! Darlene have been running the ship over here while I have been working, traveling and mostly sleeping. Because I am pregnant again and more tired than I have ever been before. It is insane how tiring it is to be pregnant. How do people do it over and over again? During the last weeks of my first pregnancy I though everyone who had more than one kid was insane because by then you should know better!

We are finally in the state of excitement, until now we have been really terrified. Our first kiddo does not sleep through the night yet.. by far. He woke up 4 times last night. And then up for the day by five. Seriously, some parents have kids who sleep! How do you brew those babies? I would be happy to know!

Nesting is kicking in. I am forcing my poor partner to redo the basement… after work.. while I sleep. He is a mighty mighty good man, having patience with me. But it was long overdue..

Any advice from going to one kiddo to two? How to introduce the new baby? Dealing with sibling rivalry? Making enough time for both? (making time for your relationship I guess is just on pause for the next 3 years.. ) Anything to calm me down, please let us know! 

 

PreK

I'm blogging from my phone for the first time, so if it looks weird.. That's why. If it doesn't, I might have just discovered a game changer! It's a lot harder to make the time to go sit at my desk top and blog, but my phone is always handy!  

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Today was a big day for miss Tindra! She started PreK! It will only be two mornings a week for a few hours, but she's been ridiculously excited and ready to start ever since Jasper started school last month. Every time we have driven past her school since we registered she calls out 'hi school, I'll see you soon!' so needless to say, she was ready.  

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I on the other hand, I'm never ready. It's so hard for me to loosen the reigns, to let someone else take charge. I don't think that will ever get easier for me. Some moms Love handing those reigns over to someone else... Not this one.  

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When we got into the room she was super timid which was a little surprising, and she kept saying she didn't want me to leave, but after a few minutes she warmed up to the idea of us leaving and she did fine with it. And was SO excited to tell me about her day when I picked her up. When I asked her if she liked school her response was 'yep and i want to go back there forever'... So that's a good sign? 

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Soren and I kept busy going on a long walk by her school (he napped, I almost hit  my daily 10k steps goal) and then we went to target. Big kids in school means I spent Way too much time in target, I even had time to browse the dollar section. Sorry drew, but I promise you will love the porcelain pumpkins and fox that we just Had to get... 

Haiti

Haiti was our first stop on our cruise, and quite possibly our favorite. Its a toss up between Haiti and Cozumel. 

One of the reasons we loved our day in Haiti so much was because it was the most relaxing day of the whole week. As relaxing as three kids at a beach can be anyway!

When we got off the cruise ship we just walked maybe 10 minutes (probably felt like more because it was Really hot, and I was wearing Soren so I was a sticky mess) and went into the private beach area. The private beach area had chairs to lounge in, cabanas, floating mats to lay on, a tiki bar (the coco loco rum drink was pretty Amazing) and a delicious lunch buffet brought out by the ship. They really think of Everything!

I can't believe these are the only pictures we took of our day in Haiti! And they are just crappy cell phone pictures. I made a point to NOT bring any of my nice big cameras on this trip, just the cell phone and go pro and I don't regret it at all. It allowed us to be so much more in the moment than if we had been lugging the camera around. Plus I would have been worried about it getting sandy, dropped, lost, stolen etc. This was much more relaxing. 

We spent our whole time in Haiti swimming (it was really to hot to Not be in the water, in the water it was perfect) playing with the few sand toys we brought, and using the goggles to look for fish under water. Oh what I wouldn't give to relive that day over and over again..

If you want to see some of the Haiti footage we got from the go pro heres the video we made of the whole week, it starts at :40 in the video!

Allure of the Seas

 

First off here's a little go pro video we made of our week long cruise if you want to just skip all the reading :) 

I'm going to have to break up this post into several posts or it will be a novel. And not a short one. There just too much to say about this trip and I don't want to forget any of it! So this post will be about the actual sea days, and I'll go into more details about this different ports we visited later. 

Sunday is the day Allure leaves and returns to Fort Lauderdale, and since everyone has to get off the ship before anyone is allowed back on, it can get hectic. We left our hotel around 11:30 ish and got to the ship and ready to board around 1 (we met my dad first.) Before getting on the ship you have to go through security, so the whole process was about 90 minutes from walking up to the ship before we were Actually on. 

Until a few months ago Allure of the Seas was the biggest cruise ship in the world...freaking HUGE. For at least 3-4 hours after we were on board Tindra kept asking 'So when are we getting on the boat?', she literally didn't even believe us when we kept telling her over and over again that we Were in fact already on the boat. Not till we were standing on the 15th (out of 17) floor, standing on the back as we were sailing away and Fort Lauderdale was getting smaller and smaller did she realize that the floating city we were in, Was the boat. 

I think there are 24 restaurants on board, and we only had time to visit maybe 6-7 of them? SO MUCH AMAZING FOOD. (And I'm not just saying that because my dad is the executive chef) We didn't have a mediocre meal the entire time vacation (except in cozumel, but that one doesn't count.) We ate at Windjammer, their huge buffet most of the time, just because its easiest with kids. But this buffet is unlike any other buffet I've ever eaten from. They had every type of food for every meal. Want Chinese food? Sure. The rice chips I used to eat daily in Bali and haven't seen since? Yep got those. Gluten free? TONS of options. All the kid friendly food you could ever want? Yep, burgers, fries, chicken, soups, fruit, desserts, literally I can't think of any kind of food that wasn't available up there. We all got in ruts though and started eating the same thing for breakfasts and lunch because there were so many choices it would get over whelming. I stuck with my mini croissants with fresh cheese and cucumber slices most mornings. And of course the hot sticky cinnamon rolls they were walking around with. Mouth. Watering.

SO besides eating SO much food. Probably too much food, we kept ourselves insanely busy. Every morning after breakfast we would head to the pool on sea days. If that was the Only thing we did the entire trip, the kids would have had the best time of their lives. Thats literally the only thing they needed. The pool for the big kids and the little splash park for Soren. Drew and I would take turns in the pool and crawling around with Soren. 

The kids slept insanely good on the cruise. We are blessed with amazing sleepers! But also, they were just exhausted when it was nap/bed time, so that helped also! After naps every day we would walk around and find other things to do, like rock climbing, mini golf, cooking shows, meeting different Madagascar (the kids movie) cast members, carousel rides (every single day Im pretty sure.) There are SO many kid friendly things to do on the boat and we didn't have time for even half of it! Guess we need to go back...

At night we would try different restaurants, all kid friendly. Even the formal dinners catered to kids, though I did have to go walk around with Soren once during the formal lobster dinner. His food came first and by the time mine came he was over sitting at a table. One night my dad ordered us a bunch of different entres to try and we ate that on our 10th floor balcony. 

We kept the kids on Colorado time, so they were up till 10-10:30 most nights (8 in colorado) so that gave us lots of time to do all the things we wanted to do, vs just having them to go to bed at 8. PLUS it meant they 'slept in' till 8 most mornings. 

A few nights after the kid were in bed we left them with my dad and went to do some of the 'adult' things. They have a casino on board (Drew might have loved this the most) water shows, Mama Mia performance, comedy clubs, piano lounge, more  bars than I even know...really SO much to do! Walking back to our room at midnight one night I couldn't believe how many people and even kids were up walking around! It was like a mini city that never slept. 

One of the amazing things we got to do (it pays knowing one of the executives on board!) was go up to 'the bridge'. Thats where they steer the ship, and all of that. The kids thought it was Super amazing to get to hang out up there and steer the ship. And ask all sorts of questions to the captains right hand man. Mom and dad might have also thought that was freakin awesome.

I was a little nervous about going on a week long cruise with three young children (everyone that I know who has been on one has only gone with kids that are older) but it went so smooth, and everyone had SO much fun. There are so many great programs though for the older kids, that it made me Really excited to plan a cruise for when the kids are older, and Drew and I can relax a little more. I saw parents with older kids send them off with the friends they had met in kid/teenage club sit and relax at one of the many small tables playing a card game, or reading a book, or even napping! That was obviously not in the cards for us, but we just had a different kind of amazing vacation. 

So the big questions we kept getting, would we do another cruise? And the answer is absolutely! But we will probably wait till the kids are a bit older. At least maybe at the point they are all done napping? We kept saying the days were flying SO fast, because by the time you factor in the time for eating out three meals a day with kids, and the time it takes to get dressed/changed into swimsuits/ready for dinner etc and then plus a 2.5-3 hour nap every afternoon. it didn't feel like it left a whole lot of time to relax/play/explore. But those kinds of vacations will come, and we will have the rest of our lives to vacation like that. For now we have young children, and even though it can be crazy/hectic/stressful traveling/vacationing with them, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thank you Royal Caribbean (and my dad!) for such an unforgettable week!

 

My 30th Birthday and Fort Lauderdale

So when we decided to go on a week long cruise we quickly decided we wanted to get down there a few days before the cruise. One just for logistics of making sure plane delays/cancelations didn't make us miss the ship, and two just to add in a few extra days of vacation. We have actually Never done a beach vacation where we don't Do anything. Not as a family anyway. I did a week on the beach in NC last summer with my family, but never with just Drew and the kids. Are vacations are usually busy exploring and go go go the whole time. I honestly have never even Wanted a beach vacation with nothing planned.

Till now. I thought it would get old/boring just being on the beach/pool with nothing planned. OH how wrong was I. Turns out, its Amazing. Im sure most of you aren't as shocked as I was. 

In between flights, we left our house at 3 AM (ENTIRELY too late and almost missed our flight because of it....) so we were all just a little bit tired. 

In between flights, we left our house at 3 AM (ENTIRELY too late and almost missed our flight because of it....) so we were all just a little bit tired. 

We flew in 4 days before getting on the ship, and decided to stay a little bit outside of Fort Lauderdale for a couple of reasons, One we wanted less crows and Two I was able to find better hotel deals a little ways out. It didn't make a difference to us since we weren't planning on really leaving the area anyway. We were able to get a great hotel with a suite (which was actually really big and had two separate bathrooms!) that was right on the beach and had a great pool for the kiddos. Another bonus which we didn't realize when we booked, the pool area had a happy hour every night with free drinks (!!) and snacks, so you can guess where we were every night from 5-7...

Every day in Fort Lauderdale was spent pretty similarly. We would wake up, head downstairs to breakfast by the pool, then we would head up and change and either go to the pool or the beach. Even if we went to the beach we would head to the pool to swim after the beach and most days had lunch right there by the pool. Then we would do naps and swim some more/happy hour and get ready and go to dinner. Once we had dinner at the restaurant at the hotel because we were too tired and hot to walk to dinner, once we were super tired and just ordered pizza, and a couple of the nights we walked the 3/4 of a mile to the pier area where there were lots of restaurants. 

I turned the big 3 0 while in Florida and it was the best day! We went to the beach and then during nap time I went and got a facial at the hotel spa followed by a delicious dinner right on the beach outside. Soren fell asleep on the walk to dinner so he slept through most of it. A sleeping baby makes for a pretty relaxing dinner!

Turning 30, on vacation with my family sure made it nice and relaxing! I had been dreading 30 for a while, till the last couple of months. Im thinking a vacation for every birthday should be the standard! One can wish!

Another super special thing happened while we were in Fort Lauderdale. A friend I met online in a What to Expect group while were were pregnant, so like back in 2011, moved to Florida a year or so ago and when she found out we were going to be in the area she drove the 1.5 hours to come hang out with us one afternoon/evening! It was so amazing to see the babies together (now 4.5) Its so crazy meeting someone you have only known online, but it felt completely normal at the same time, like were were just old friends getting together. Kiddos and husbands all got along great too! Thanks for meeting us Nadine! We Definitely have to do it again!

As we were driving in the car service to the cruise port from the hotel we were talking about how this was probably the first time in our adult lives that we have spent 4 whole days within a mile radius. Crazy huh? We literally never left the blocks surrounding our hotel, which is So not how we normally do things. Next time we are in this area we definitely need to rent a car because I know there is SO much to do, but not having any plans was the perfect way to start this vacation, as our week on the ship was much more the go go go we are used to. 

 

Back again!

Ive said that a few times lately haven't I? This time we are back from our 11 day vacation in Fort Lauderdale and caribbean cruise. We got back at 1:30 Sunday night, or rather Monday morning, and Jasper started school 7 hours later...I hope his teacher realizes that first day was the quietest/calmest he will be all year, from pure exhaustion. 

By now the kids are back to their normal crazy and wild selves, while Drew and I are still exhausted. Oh to have the energy of a 4 or 9 year old. 

Oh yeah, NINE year old. Jasper turned 9 in Jamaica while on vacation (and I turned the big 3 0) more on both of those later!

I'l be back to share a bunch pictures from our trip (though surprisingly i didn't take That many) and a fun go pro video thats in the works, and I'll leave this picture, I believe the only picture of all five of us from the entire trip..typical!